Ali Karim and Jim Scanlan IBC

Ali Karim and Jim Scanlan IBC

Many in the logistics industry were shocked to hear of the unexpected passing of Jim Scanlan, aged 59, on Monday 10 April, writes Ali Karim, MD of the Hazchem Network.

Co-founder of The Pallet Network (TPN), Jim’s passion was always transport, from his time at United Transport, pallet network Fortec and as an agency driver.

My memories of Jim (pictured right with myself) are of the time we spent co-founding Hazchem Network, with HW Coates, Deltion Software, a consortium of hauliers (and Palletline) and the team we assembled in Rugby.

I recall sitting at my desk at Interoute Transport in Thame just after the millennium and became interested in the pallet network model. We had sent out press releases indicating Interoute Transport Services was planning to establish the UK’s first specialist pallet network for the road haulage of palletised dangerous goods under ever-tightening ADR regulations.

We received increasing interest from the industry, and then I got a phone call that went like this.

“Is that Ali Karim?” to which I replied, “Yes, and who’s this?”

“I’m Jim Scanlan, and I have the same idea as you.”

And so started our partnership – one that changed the direction of my life.

We held many meetings traversing the country, as well as on the continent, spending long hours in the car talking about our lives.

Adam Leonard –TPN's former chief executive – and I often compared notes as we both shared experiences of working with Jim.

“Jim’s boundless enthusiasm, energy and belief gave birth to TPN. He was full of ideas and shared them with those around him, leaving the finer details to those who shared his vision. Jim was a generous and unselfish mentor to those who had the good fortune to know him,” said Leonard.

The Hazchem Network started trading on the 8th of October 2004, a night that remains permanently striated into my memory. I still smile with the recollection of transhipping a grand total of 43 pallets on that first night.

Helene and Jim Scanlan first vehcile loaded 8 oct 2004 at Hazchem

Helene and Jim Scanlan load the first vehicle 8 oct 2004 at Hazchem Network

Rarely in life does one get the opportunity to build something from the ground up, adding benefit to the UK’s logistics infrastructure; creating something of value.

Today, I thank Jim Scanlan for providing me the opportunity and giving me the courage to take that first step, into business. For as scary as those times were, Jim’s laughter kept me going.

I recall when Jim left the business during the summer of 2005. We stood pulling heavily on our Marlboros, and stared at each other. I noticed his eyes were blurry as were my own and he said:

“You know Ali, I am proud of many things in my life; my wife Helene and the children, the work at Fortec, setting up The Pallet Network with Richard Eldred, but the achievement I'm most proud of has been working with you and our colleagues to set-up Hazchem Network, because it was so hard, but so worthwhile.” Then he got in his car, and drove off.

Today, I think of Jim as well as his dear wife Helene and his children, for the memories of his companionship always make me grateful for the random nature of fate; for it introduced me to this great man of the logistics industry.

  • Jim Scanlan’s funeral will take place at 1pm on 2nd May, at Slough Crematorium.

Jim Scanlan at Hazchem 2

Jim Scanlan at Hazchem

Jim Scanlan by his peers

"Always a people person, he convinced many business owners to buy into his dream of creating a different type of pallet network. He succeeded in realising this dream. Jim was a great guy to know both on a personal as well as a professional level and I will always be grateful to him for allowing me the opportunity to work alongside him as he established TPN as a real force within the sector. Failure didn’t figure in his vocabulary and his endless optimism invariably saw him achieve his aims. A great guy to share a beer with, he made a lasting impression on those of us who were lucky to know him.”

Adam Leonard

"I met Jim around 2000 and it is because of this chance encounter I set up Deltion. Our family became an early investor in TPN and after the exit to private equity; we again invested with Jim when he set up Hazchem Network. Over the years we became good friends. There were some tough times but Jim was never one to be despondent. He worked hard and was full of energy and enthusiasm, and a great family man. It is a shame to lose him so soon and so suddenly.”

Piyush Shah, chairman, Deltion

“On behalf of the Association of Pallet Networks it is with great sadness that we were informed that Jim Scanlon had passed away, Jim was one of the Sectors Pioneers. Jim was involved in the Managing and creation of cutting edge Transport methods that changed Transport in the UK and he played a part in securing the future for many family transport businesses. Jim will be sadly missed by his family, friends and past sector colleagues.”

Paul Sanders, chairman of Association of Pallet Networks